Meet the up and coming Ambriehl Khalil. Wrote the Young Adult and
LGBT novel Coins In The Coffee Cup aged just 17. Signed to Pen Name Publishing and debuted the novel at 18. Now 20, she’s set to release her next book 1000 Paper Cuts in 2017.
I luckily caught up with Ambriehl – we talked about getting into publishing, skipping uni, selfdoubt, overrated books, tips and advice and more >>>>
How did you get into publishing?
i’ve been writing for nearly half my life and it’s always been something that i’ve enjoyed and loved more than anything, but it always just seemed like a hobby, a dream that would never be reached. But once my book started doing well online and my dearest friend reached out to me and told me i should look into getting it published, i did. that’s basically it.
Did anything deter you from pursuing this path?
Oh of course, there’s been so many times where i’ve wanted to give up. I’ve changed my career path several times, too. There’s so many things that’ll get to me and they’ll be tiny things too, a bad review, a snide comment. Sometimes it’s just pure self doubt that eats away at me. But usually i sleep on it and when i wake up all the previous feelings are gone. I can get thousands of bad comments and it’ll make me feel terrible but in the end this is what i’ve chosen to do, it’s my passion and it’s what i’ll stick with.
After graduating high school, why did you decide against tertiary education? or taking up an art or literature course?
I actually did an online course in creative writing for about a year and I loved it, but because it was online i found it very difficult to stick to my deadlines. Some people are good at school and others, not so much. I’m one of the ‘others’. There are moments where i think that i’ve made a mistake by not going to university but other times i’m really thankful i chose not to do it. Writing is a very creative and difficult process, and being forced to write when i can’t in that moment is my worst nightmare. So, i suppose i’m okay with not studying anything.
Also, when i graduated high school i immediately jumped into publishing my first book so i guess i felt like i didn’t really need to go.
What’s your writing process like?
Sporadic. I write whenever i can, but sometimes i don’t have anything. Sometimes i won’t write for weeks or months and then other times i’ll write for hours on end and won’t move. If i were to explain my writing process for a book, though, i guess i would say that i start by taking down notes of what i want to include. I never ever start the first chapter, or any chapter, without knowing my characters. They’re the base of every novel and if they’re dull and boring and don’t come alive, the story is basically a flop. I figure out their names, their appearance, their traits, the way they speak. I build them into genuine people and make them become someone i feel like i know. Then, i start my story, whatever it may be.
How did your first published book, Coins in the Coffee Cup, come about?
It came out of nowhere. I was sitting on my bed one night and i hadn’t written in about a year and the first line just came to me. Of course it’s no longer the first line, and i can’t remember exactly what it was, but i just had it. I pulled out my laptop and i started writing the first chapter, posted it online not long after, and continued to write through frequent updates. When i started it, i had no idea that i would turn it into a novel. I never ever thought it would be what it is today.
and your next book, 1000 Paper Cuts, what can you reveal about that?
I can’t reveal too much, there’s still a while to go before I can let out any teasers at all. But what I can say is that you might need tissues. Probably.
Speaking of which, when do you know when to continue a story and when to give up on that idea? how do you know what’s worth pursuit?
After the first few chapters I usually know. I hold on to my ideas like a lifeline though, the thought of abandoning anything scares me to death. For a while I was scared that I would have to abandon one thousand paper cuts, and I was more than halfway through. I have many unfinished stories though, some after just a few pages, some are a few chapters.
Do you have other creative outlets?
I draw when i can, I paint, also. I love doing photography and filmography. I have so many ideas in my head of everything that I always want to do. It’s like my mind doesn’t rest sometimes. Like, hey! that’s a good picture, take it. Or, hey! that would be a great video you should do that eventually. I’m also very (and I mean very) slowly learning guitar. For the most part though, it’s just sitting in the corner of my room gathering dust.
Novel genre of choice?
I mostly read poetry and young adult novels. Ironically, they’re the two things I write. you should always read what you write.
I don’t have many favourite books at all, there’s never any that have stuck with me. I get obsessed for about a week and then read another one and the hype is over. So i guess i honestly couldn’t tell you a favourite at this point in time.
Books you think are overrated?
i’ll get slammed for it, but some of John Green’s work is quite overrated. They’re incredible, don’t get me wrong, and he’s insanely talented, but they’re all hyped up too much. That being said, so is everything. There are so many novels that have been spoken about so highly but then you go and read them and you’re disappointed. It all depends on personal taste.
What makes a good book?
obviously the characters and the plot, but mostly the characters. I need to fall in love with at least one and if i don’t then i kind of just sleep-read the entirety of the novel. There should probably be some adventurous stuff in there somewhere, too. Maybe a little romance.
Favourite book quote?
is it narcissistic of me to say one of my own? Other than one of my own that i can’t say yet since it’s in my new book, i’ve always loved the second line from Lolita.
“Lo-lee-ta; the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three streps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
Most random way a story idea came about?
the most random would probably be how i got the idea for One Thousand Paper Cuts. I was just scrolling Tumblr, honestly, and saw a picture of a guy smoking and i thought right then and there, i have an idea and it’s going to be excellent.
Best ways to improve your writing?
cliche, but practice makes perfect. Write everyday, even if it’s just journal entries. Also, read. Read so much you have books falling out from your eyeballs. The more you read, the more creative and inspired you feel.
Tips for any young people wanting to enter the field?
persistence is everything. Writing a book is hard. It’s so hard. It’s the hardest thing i’ve ever done. You can forget where you’re going and what your doing and your story can become a mess, but if you’re persistent with what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. there will be many many attempts before you finally create something that’s worthwhile.
A massive thankyou to Ambriehl for the interview. I love her work, and wish her all the best for her future endeavours! I have faith she’ll go far. Keen for 1000 Papercuts in 2017.
(Honestly incredible!!) poetry, short stories, photography and other things: https://ambriehlkhalil.wordpress.com